EVANSTON, Ill. — Northwestern rewarded coach Chris Collins for a bounce-back season and the school’s second NCAA tournament appearance with a three-year contract extension through 2028, the school announced.
Collins is the only coach in the program’s 118-year history to lead Northwestern to the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats made it for the first time in 2017 before enduring five straight losing seasons.
Northwestern turned it around in a big way in 2022-23, going 22-12 and tying for second in the Big Ten at 12-8. The Wildcats beat Boise State in the tournament before losing to UCLA. Collins split Big Ten Coach of the Year honors with Purdue’s Matt Painter.
Collins said in a statement he is “thankful” to Northwestern President Michael H. Schill and athletic director Derrick Gragg for “showing the confidence in me to continue to lead Northwestern Basketball.”
“It’s a responsibility that I love and embrace,” he added. “To have the opportunity to be a part of accomplishing so many firsts in the history of the basketball program during my tenure has been special, and I can’t wait to get to work to pursue more amazing moments in the future.”
Collins is 156-162 in 10 years. His future was in doubt prior to the season, but with star guard Boo Buie leading the way, the Wildcats turned things around.
They had their best finish in the Big Ten since the 1958-59 team tied for second and knocked off a team ranked No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time when they beat Purdue at home on Feb. 12. They were 4-2 against ranked opponents, including a pair of wins over Indiana.
“The success Coach Collins achieved last season and the momentum he has built around our men’s basketball program is a remarkable accomplishment,” Gragg said.
Collins, whose dad Doug played and coached in the NBA, seemed like the perfect fit when he was hired to replace the fired Bill Carmody in 2013.
Growing up about 10 miles from Welsh Ryan Arena in suburban Northbrook, he was chosen Mr. Basketball in Illinois. He went on to star at Duke and spent 13 years as an assistant under Mike Krzyzewski before taking over at Northwestern.
Everything seemed to fall into place his first few seasons. And then, it all fell apart.
Northwestern won 20 games in back-to-back seasons and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 2017, beating Vanderbilt before losing to Gonzaga. But instead of emerging as a consistent winner, the Wildcats careened off course.
Northwestern went 60-90 overall and 26-71 in conference play over the next five years. The heat on Collins was so high following the 2021-22 season that Gragg released a statement saying the coach would get at least one more season to turn around his struggling program.